The New Year kicks off with a big launch for new car buyers in the UK; the new sixth-generation Volkswagen Polo is now here.
In 2017 it was the UK’s seventh best selling car with almost 48,000 registrations, and Volkswagen’s second biggest success story, behind the Golf. Since the first generation model over 14 million Polos have been produced, with around ten per cent of those cars registered on British plates.
As such, the launch line up is pretty broad, and will continue to grow as the year goes by. Unsurprisingly, VW expects the turbocharged 1.0-litre TSI to be the most popular engine choice; it’s an engine we’ve already sampled, and driven here is one of its little brothers – the naturally aspirated 1.0 MPI.
This 64bhp, naturally aspirated three-cylinder unit is as cheap and basic as things get under the bonnet for the new Polo. It chalks up a £1,300 list price saving over the 94bhp 1.0-litre TSI unit, and is very cheap to insure with just a group one rating in either S or the slightly plusher SE trim level.
As such, on paper at least it looks like the Polo to go for if being shrewd with cash is your thing; even the 60.1mpg official fuel economy isn’t that far behind that of the new-generation TSI engine.
However, the tiny 95Nm of torque the engine produces means you really have to dig deep to get the Polo moving on faster roads such as dual carriageways, which also bites hard into that decent claimed fuel economy figure. When up to speed it’s impressively refined, with the three-cylinder thrum of the engine well isolated. The switch to the new MQB AO platform means that it feels grown up to drive, while VW’s engineers have done an excellent job at preparing the Polo for pothole sullen roads here in Britain, with ride quality that feels better than that of the Ford Fiesta.
It’s not quite as fun to drive as the Fiesta though, and the peppy 1.0-litre TSI engine remains our pick over this basic 1.0 MPI unit. It’s a much better engine choice all-round, and on a PCP scheme may only cost a couple of quid more per month depending on your deposit.
Nevertheless, comfort is one of the new Polo’s big strong points. The new interior looks smart and clean, and makes use of the firm’s trademark soft touch plastics to feel like one of the most premium cabins in the segment. SE trim is expected to be the most popular choice in showrooms, boasting a sharp and slick eight-inch infotainment screen with VW’s Car-Net App Connect system, a leather steering wheel, and a comprehensive suite of driver assists and safety features, including autonomous emergency braking.
At this level there’s still plenty of equipment left on the options list though, such as cruise control and parking sensors. The Active Info Display digital instrument panel is available, but is also reserved as an optional extra.
It’s also more practical than the Fiesta with a much larger boot. In fact, the 351-litre cargo space is larger than some cars in the segment above, including the Focus.